SWEET SWAN OF AVON
To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare
8PM, Apr. 23, 2016
35 Hazelton Ave. (near Bay Subway), Toronto
Single tickets at the door $30/$20 students & seniors
Robert, Earl of Essex is thought to be the sitter in a picture by Hilliard known as ‘A Melancholy Youth’. We can be sure he was in a dump by the time his ill-conceived rebellion had failed spectacularly and he was sitting in the Tower awaiting his execution. It is in this situation he wrote the words set here by Dowland, invoking his muse at the beginning of a long poem. On the eve of his rebellion, Essex’s supporters paid to have Richard II performed at the Globe, so it seems appropriate to have Gaunt’s meditation on death before Essex’s lyric. Dowland’s book of music for five-part strings and lute called Lachrimae or Seaven Teares begins with ‘seven passionate pavans’ each starting with his ‘tear’ motif of four notes. Antique is a reworking of the song version you will hear later, itself a reworking of a lute solo.
Gaunt from Richard II I:3
From silent night John Dowland (1563-1626)
Lachrimae Antique Dowland
Ophelia from Hamlet IV:5
O, griefe, even on the bud Thomas Morley (1558-1602)
Lachrimae Antique Novae Dowland
Hamlet’s admonishment of his mother when she suggests he end his mourning for his father needs little setup either. We comment musically with Dowland’s almost expressionistic song of melancholy and desperation and some ‘groaning tears’.
Hamlet from Hamlet I:2
In darknesse let me dwell Dowland
Lachrimae Gementes Dowland
We present speech where Ferdinand, who thinks he has lost his father in a shipwreck, hears Ariel sing Full fathom five set for the play by Robert Johnson. The text of Come yee heavy states, also thought to be a playsong, has so many images in common with Full fathom five that the latter would seem to have been influenced by the text Dowland sets. This pavan, marked out as ‘sad tears’, quotes the phrase which sets the words ‘tears a delightful thing’ in Dowland’s own song I saw my lady weep which you may have heard in our Lives of Girls and Women concert.
Ferdinand from The Tempest I:2
Come yee heavy states of night Dowland
Lachrimae Tristes Dowland
John Danyel, brother of the poet Samuel, titles this cycle of three songs Mrs. M.E. Her Funeral Teares. We surround the meditation on the meaning of tears and sighs with similar thoughts from plays, and finish the half with ‘forced tears’.
Duke from Measure for Measure III:1
Greefe keep within John Danyel (1564-c.1626)
Richard from Henry VI Pt. III II:1
Drop not myne eyes Danyel
The Queen from Henry VI Pt. II III:2
Have all our passions Danyel
Lachrimae Coactae Dowland
The only Lachrimae pavan with a possessive in the title is ‘Lover’s tears’, heard in this set, which allows us to present the thoughts of melancholy lovers who have lost control of their thoughts and their tongues in Shakespeare’s sonnet and the poem set by Dowland.
Unquiet thoughts Dowland
Lachrimae Amantis Dowland
When we met Pericles, Prince of Tyre in the last program he was thanking the gods for his and his daughter’s delivery from the sea. Here the narrator Gower places him earlier in the ordeal which will lead him to a catatonic state of melancholy. Dowland’s famous Sorrow stay is arranged as a consort song, and we finish Dowland’s cycle of Lachrimae pavans with ‘true tears’.
Gower from Pericles IV:3
Sorrow come Dowland, arr. William Wigthorpe
Lachrimae Verae Dowland
So we end our contemplations on the death of our friend Shakespeare with a sonnet, and the song that launched Dowland’s seven passionate pavans, and, as you will hear in the first notes of Holborne’s pavan, many more besides.
Lacrime – Flow my tears Dowland
The Image of Melancholly Antony Holborne (d. 1602)
But Shakespeare remains our contemporary. In the manuscript of Thomas More there are large passages thought to be by Shakespeare. During Henry VIII’s reign apprentice boys gathered and started beating up and burning the houses of foreigners and refugees in London. Thomas More was sent with a troop to calm things down. Shakespeare puts these words into his mouth. Timor et Tremor is in a set of manuscripts with untexted lower parts (so played not sung) and a lute book owned by the Roman Catholic Paston family.
Thomas More in Thomas More
Timor et tremor Orlando Lassus (1532-1594)
Fear and terror have settled upon me;
the shadows have invaded me.
Have mercy on me, Lord; have mercy.
Unto you I commend my spirit.
Hear, O Lord, my prayer,
for you are my refuge
and my succour, all-powerful Lord
and I invoke Thee: let me never be confounded.
The program was devised with the scholarship and expertise of Prof. Deanne Williams.
The Musicians In Ordinary
Named after the singers and lutenists who performed in the most intimate quarters of the Stuart monarchs’ palace, The Musicians In Ordinary for the Lutes and Voices dedicate themselves to the performance of early solo song and vocal chamber music. Soprano Hallie Fishel and lutenist John Edwards have been described as ‘winning performers of winning music.’ A fixture on the Toronto early music scene for over 10 years, in 2012 MIO became Ensemble in Residence at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. They have concertized across North America and lecture regularly at universities and museums. Institutions where MIO have performed range from the scholarly to those for a more general public and include the Shakespeare Society of America, the Renaissance Society of America, the Shakespeare Association of America, Grinnell College, the Universities of Alberta, Toronto and at California at San Diego, the Kingston Opera Guild, Syracuse, Trent and York Universities and the Bata Shoe Museum. They have been Ensemble in Residence at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Seth Lerer is Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego. Well known for his scholarship and public lectures in the history of the English Language, he has also published widely on medieval and Renaissance English Literature, poetry, and Children's Literature. His books have won such awards as the Harry Levin Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Truman Capote Prize in Criticism. His most recent book is Prospero's Son, a memoir published by the University of Chicago Press. His current work on a book on music, myth, and lyric poetry in Shakespeare's last plays helped inspire our Sweet Swan of Avon series.
Christopher Verrette has been a member of the violin section of Tafelmusik since 1993 and is a frequent soloist and leader with the orchestra. He holds a Bachelor of Music and a Performer’s Certificate from Indiana University. He contributed to the development of early music in the American Midwest as a founding member of the Chicago Baroque Ensemble and Ensemble Voltaire and as a guest director with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra. He collaborates with many ensembles around North America, performing music from seven centuries on violin, viola, rebec, vielle and viola d’amore. He was concertmaster in a recording of rarely heard classical symphonies for an anthology by Indiana University Press and collaborated with Sylvia Tyson on the companion recording to her novel, Joyner’s Dream. Chris was the sound of Mark Smeaton’s violin on the TV series The Tudors.
Eleanor Verrette studied violin with Gretchen Paxson and Aisslinn Nosky, modern viola with Anna-Belle Marcotte at McGill University, where she graduated with a BMus. in 2012, and Baroque viola with Pemi Paull. She now performs regularly on Renaissance and Baroque viola with The Musicians In Ordinary, on vielle and rebec with Toronto-based medieval group Pneuma Ensemble, and on plugged-in viola with Boston-area band Hadley and the Jackal. She is featured on recent album releases by acclaimed folk-rock artists Lakes of Canada and Corinna Rose and has also performed with Aradia Ensemble and Montréal singer-songwriter Ari Swan.
Stephen Marvin is a writer, musician and craftsman living in Toronto. Since 1977 he has specialized in early music, performing with and leading many well known ensembles. He was principal violinist and violist with the Tafelmusik Orchestra and Chamber Players for 20 years, and now performs in about half of the season's programs. Stephen’s primary devotion to chamber music has inspired his participation in many ensembles, especially recitals and trio performances of late 18th century repertoire with fortepiano. Currently, he is the violist with the Lumiere Quartet. Stephen is represented on more than sixty CDs and other recordings, most notably with Sony. He also enjoys an international reputation as a bow-maker. For twenty-five years he has specialized in 17th and 18th century reproductions for early music specialists like himself, and has published articles and given lectures on the history and construction of old bows. He has recently begun making modern bows after examples by Tourte, Peccatte and others.